About 14 percent of the people suffer from a mental illness and that person could be your life partner. Living with someone with mental illness can be draining and confusing as its certainly not an easy feat. Different domains of a relationship like communication, intimacy and relationship and family dynamics may get impacted due to the illness. The process of adjusting to and accepting the changes in your relationship, and creating a new routine may take some time. This can also lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness as you may feel like you don’t know how to support your spouse.
One of the most important ways by which you can support your spouse is by taking good care of yourself. This is because illnesses impact not just the individual dealing with the illness, but also the people around them, specially the primary caregiver, who in a lot of cases are the partner.
The primary caregiver, the partner, may also experience stress and burden since the process of caregiving can often be rigorous. This can lead to negative impact on your physical (migraines, loss of appetite, insomnia, excessive fatigue), psychological (symptoms of anxiety and depression, guilt, fear, confusion) and social health (social withdrawal), thereby decreasing quality of life.
Studies have shown increased distress negatively impacts the caregiving process hence if you make efforts to support your own physical and mental wellbeing, you’ll be better able to support your spouse. Some self-care techniques you can incorporate in your daily life are-
You can also identify sources of support. Sources of support can be trusted friends or family who you can reach out to in times of need and can help ease your responsibilities. Talking to others going through similar experiences as you can also help. Virtual and in person support groups can help you meet others, individuals with family members with mental illnesses, experiencing similar challenges as you.
Professional mental health support can also help you deal with the stressors that may arise as a result of caregiving and can help you understand ways to better care for your loved one. Since increased distress negatively impacts the process of caregiving, it is important to seek the help of mental health professionals who can help you take care of your own mental health.
We at Samvedna Care recognize the distress faced by caregivers and provide services for caregiver wellbeing. These services include caregiver counselling, caregiver burden assessment and support group meetings. Caregiver counselling helps address concerns about communication, management of activities of daily living and difficult behaviors.